Drilon was the protector of drug lords in Iloilo

Until now, President Duterte hasn’t fathomed the real picture of illegal drugs in Iloilo City. He has blamed dismissed City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog for the rise of drug lords and their grip on the local community before he came to power. But the truth is that Mabilog was only a pawn. He was never the political boss of Iloilo City. He took orders from Senator Franklin Drilon.

But isn’t it strange that despite the massive reportage and media commentaries on the illegal drugs problem in Iloilo City, Drilon never ever said anything about it? He reads my every blog and Facebook post, and there is no denying he knew about how bad the illegal drugs problem had grown during the years 2010-2016. In fact, I sent him an email sometime in 2012 beseeching him to do something about it. And when the late Melvin “Boyet” Odicta tried to storm into the premises of Aksyon Radyo Iloilo on November 19,2015, Drilon squelched the calls for a Senate investigation into the incident, saying it was a minor police matter.

Drilon was not just the political kingpin of Iloilo at the time. All the national government agencies, including the PNP, PDEA and NBI, bowed before him like a demi-god. Only those who received his blessings were given assignments as Regional Directors in Western Visayas, which has Iloilo City as the regional center. Despite such power that he wielded, Drilon never issued orders for the police to crack down on the drug syndicates. What he did was show a fondness for Barangay Monica-Blumentritt Punong Barangay Keith “Dabing” Espinosa, wife of Jing Jing Espinosa, a top lieutenant of the Odicta syndicate.

Kap dabing with drilon

VIP treatment palagi si Kap Dabing Espinosa na asawa ni Jing Jing Espinosa sa mga okasyon ni Drilon.

Drilon with Kap Dabing

And he was always quick to downplay the magnitude of the problem. Not once had he chastised Mabilog, his cousin and protege, about the growth of the syndicates. In short, it was Drilon who gave protection to the syndicates. And it’s time President Duterte took him to task for this crime against the nation.

Odicta’s release illegal?

The release of Melvin Odicta Sr. from the National Bilibid Prisons in 1995 continues to be a burning issue among lawyers.
A few night ago, a municipal trial court judge and two lawyers told me the Muntinlupa City RTC executive judge who issued the release order by virtue of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus did so without legal basis.
“If it was an application of the indeterminate sentence law under the new law amending the prison sentences for illegal drugs, then there should have been an application with the Parole and Pardon Board,” the judge said.
It was purely an executive function which needed approval of the President of the Republic, the two lawyers added.
Besides, the three of them echoed my earlier observation — based on Supreme Court decisions — that a petition for habeas corpus is not a proper remedy for convicted felons.
The release order was, in effect, an illegal act overturning the decision of an equal court which was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
It is turning out that Jun Alojado Capulot has succeeded in opening up a huge can of worms that could bring down an empire in Iloilo City.

More questions on Odicta habeas corpus

After I exposed the circumstances that surrounded the release of Melvin “Boyet” Odicta Sr. on June 7, 1995, particularly on the dubious legality of the writ of habeas corpus issued by Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 276 Judge Norma C. Perello, I was swamped with more leads that raise more questions about the whole affair.

Over coffee, I solicited the view of retired Guimaras RTC Judge Merlin Deloria on whether or not the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus was proper in basically shortening the prison sentence of Odicta, who was convicted for selling marijuana to undercover narcotics agents of the defunct PC/INP way back in March 1993 and sentence to life imprisonment.

At first, Judge Deloria was reluctant to give his opinion. He was totally in the dark about the case, he said. So I outlined to him the facts of the case from the conviction by the Iloilo RTC to the Supreme Court affirmation of the conviction and then the filing of the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

After I had covered the breadth and length of the case in a span of 10 minutes, Judge Deloria asked me the question: “Where was he detained at the time he filed the petition for a writ of habeas corpus before the Muntinlupa RTC?”

Judge Deloria was once my professor in Taxation in law school, and I always admired his sharp analytical mind that made him one of the favorite professors in all the years he was teaching at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City.

At once, I saw his brilliant mind at work with that question.  The National Bilibid Prison was in Muntinlupa City, making the RTC Branch 276 a proper venue for the filing of such action. But I knew that Odicta wasn’t confined at the Bilibid prison. He was serving his sentence at the Sablayan Penal Colony in Mindoro Occidental.

Judge Deloria’s question tackled the issue of jurisdiction. If Odicta was confined in Mindoro Occidental, then the Muntinlupa RTC had no jurisdiction over him.

The doubtful legality of the writ of habeas corpus as legal basis for Odicta’s release from prison didn’t end there. Judge Deloria said he didn’t think the habeas corpus proceedings was sufficient to overturn the final conviction and sentence to life imprisonment based on R.A. 7659 that revised the schedule of penalties.

There should have been a separate petition for Odicta to avail of the shorter prison term under R.A. 7659, according to Judge Deloria.

With this development, the Aksyon Radyo Iloilo management is planning to file a petition before the Supreme Court seeking the nullification of the writ of habeas corpus. Odicta had filed a libel complaint against anchorman Jun Capulot, station manager and anchorman John Paul Tia and the chief executive officer of Manila Broadcasting Co.

This mulled petition to nullify the writ of habeas corpus may result in Odicta being sent back to prison and wait for a proper judicial order applying the shorter jail term in his favor.


Drilon doesn’t want probe on radio station assault

Panay News Drilon No Probe

SWAT in Iloilo City is shameful, witless, arrogant, ‘tanga”

It was almost like an action movie scene: heavily-armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team troopers, complete with armor vests and Kevlar helmets, make their way up the stairs of a building, their armalite rifles in ready-to-fire positions, in search of armed criminals. The lead SWAT member takes a peek, as if expecting a volley of fire to cut him down. Seeing nobody, he pushes forward, followed by other troopers. 

But the succeeding scenes captured on CCTV take an unexpected turn. No, there was no gunfire from inside the building. No grenade or any device capable of killing or maiming. The premises was the radio station dyOK Aksyon Radyo Iloilo, not a shabu laboratory or a drug den guarded by killers. Inside were unarmed radio station personnel — a senior reporter/anchorman, three news writers, technicians and security guards.

To the shock and dismay of Ilonggos who have watched this series of CCTV video clips, the media personnel, at gunpoint, were ordered to remove their shirts. The security guard who had even opened the door for the SWAT was made to crawl on the floor, in the process getting kicked in the head and body before he was handcuffed. Anchorman Salvador “Jun” Capulot explained to the SWAT team they weren’t the bad guys. “Taga Aksyon Radyo kami,” he was quoted as saying. “Ti ano karon? SWAT man kami! Suspek kamo tanan!” came the arrogant reply.

All the male personnel were then herded downstairs before being hauled to the Mandurriao police station. Only two female news writers were spared the indignity of removing their clothes, and that’s because they refused.

This ugly incident made it to national television two nights in a row. Malacanang has promised to investigate. But the PNP city director, Senior Supt. Ruperto Floro, seemed unwilling to concede that the actions of the SWAT were illegal, improper, brutal and stupid. Floro said the order for the “suspects” to strip is part of the rules of engagement, and that everybody had to be considered a suspect because of a crime that had taken place shortly beforehand.

With that kind of justification, I would say that stupidity has become an epidemic in the Philippine National Police. First, the Aksyon Radyo Iloilo premises wasn’t a scene of a crime. The crime had taken place at a restaurant in the Smallville complex where a rumble had taken place. Between the crime scene and the Carlos Uy building was a distance of about 70 meters. It’s just that the young boys who were involved in the rumble sought refuge at the lobby of the third floor, with one of them wounded.

The irony is that it was Capulot who called up the police to inform them these distressed youths were there. In a sudden twist, Capulot and his colleagues found themselves considered as “suspects”. Even that were so, the treatment they got from the SWAT is simply despicable. Their Miranda rights were not read to them. The order for them to strip isn’t found in any manual or rules of engagement.

Now we can see why our PNP is losing the battle against criminality. We have policemen who don’t know the rules of engagement. They behaved arrogantly. They violated the human rights of the security guard and the media personnel. They are an embarrassment to the entire PNP. Instead of being the protectors of the people, they became the oppressors of the people.